Buick’s White Streak

Billed as a “gentleman’s light four-cylinder roadster,” the Model 10 delivered quite snappy performance by the standards of the day, earning it the enviable nickname of “the white streak,” which was inspired by the off-white paint job of the initial run of cars.

Its 2.7-liter, four-cylinder engine was fed by a Schebler carburetor, feeding the combustion chambers via overhead valves. Buick called this mechanical setup “valve in head,” more efficient than the various side-valve (think valve-in-block) designs common at the time.

Though not as rare as the overhead valvetrain, the Buick’s identical bore and stroke specifications (3.75 inches) were also unusual for the day—most engines were long-stroke designs. Buick rated the engine’s horsepower at 22.5, barely more than the T’s, but this was probably conservative judging by the car’s success in various racing events.

There were other features that were advanced, compared with the Model T. The suspension, for example, employed longitudinal leaf springs fore and aft versus the T’s buggy-style transverse leaf springs, a Ford suspension feature that persisted until 1949.

The rear-differential housing was cast iron as opposed to the original T’s flimsier stamped-steel unit, the engine’s oil was circulated by a gear-driven pump, and the cooling system had a water pump. Like the T, the transmission was a planetary two-speed, and there were three clearly labeled foot pedals for brakes, slow forward, and reverse, though the first Ts retained an earlier two-pedal system.

The Buick also looked good, with lots of brass trim, and the purchase price included acetylene headlamps, oil-burning side- and taillights, and a bulb horn. The example shown here is part of the collection at the GM Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Michigan, and in the interest of practicality, it’s equipped with a 12-volt system and electric starting. Like the T, and all other 1908 Buicks, it was originally a crank-start car, though it avoided the T’s reputation for bone-breaking backfires.

View Photos

View Photos

About The Author

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.